We see it all over Instagram on Sundays, and I’ve been guilty of it too – posting about #MealPrepSunday. We like to show everyone that we have our shit together and prepared an entire week of healthy meals in just one day, and now we won’t be tempted by the $8.00 pizza deal at the grocery store, blah blah blah. The truth is, meal prep Sunday sucks! There, I said it. It’s super time consuming and legit stressful. I used to get up at 7am on Sunday, make my grocery list, head to the grocery store, back home for lunch and then start prepping. It was too much and I finally had enough. I couldn’t get it all done in one day. I worked Monday to Friday, nine to five and I needed my Sundays to relax.
Then I started spreading things out over the entire weekend and it made such a difference. I still get my #MealPrepSunday done, but by the afternoon I’m spending some quality time with the hubs, or catching up on Netflix. There were a couple of things I learned that really helped to make the entire process less stressful and way less time consuming.
Here are my top five meal prep tips:
Start planning well in advance
- I start thinking about what meals I’m going to eat the week prior. Yes, you hear that right. By starting a week in advance, it allows me enough time to really think about what I actually want to eat. I can make sure I’m not eating the same thing over and over, which is what usually happens when I try to plan a weeks worth of dinner in one night (there was a time when all I made was stir-fry. Every. Single. Night.) It also gives me time to change my mind, or to browse through my cookbooks and decide to try out a new recipe.
Use the WHOLE weekend
- I firm up my weekly menu by Friday, do the grocery shopping on Saturday and cook/portion out everything on Sunday. I found it way too time consuming to try to do everything in just one day; there literally wasn’t enough time. Grocery shopping the day before made the biggest difference. If I have some downtime on Saturday I will also try to get some veggies chopped or my proteins marinated. Knowing that on Sunday all I have to do is cook is such a relief.
Use up food/items you already have on hand
- By planning out the menu days before, it allows you to take an inventory of what you already have in your cupboards… and also saves you a bit of cash.
- If you know you just bought a box of your favourite crackers because they were on sale, why not use them as a snack for the week with hummus or guac?
- Also, don’t be afraid to check out your baking pantry – you just might have all the necessary ingredients for a quick and easy cookie recipe
When it comes to the actual prep day – typically Sunday – create a game plan and put it into action
- If you’re going to be using different cooking methods – i.e. roasting and steaming, you don’t have to wait for one to finish before starting the other. Let’s be honest, no one wants to spend the entire day in the kitchen… especially on Sunday… when you just want to rest because Monday means back to the grind. I try to get all of my cooking done by lunch (so yeah, I get up a bit early on Sundays) and that means having multiple things going at the same time. I roast all my veggies at the same temperature, so I can put three or four pans in the oven at once and then I use different timers for them. Sounds annoying, but it works to really speed things up.
- If I’m cooking rice or lentils, or anything else that requires longer cooking, I get those started first. While they are simmering for 40 mins, I can get most of my veggies cooked in that time
Keep those leftovers!
- Sometimes my eyes are bigger than my stomach – or there was a huge sale on broccoli at the grocery store. Once everything is cooked, and after I’ve portioned out our meals for the week, if I have left overs I keep them and turn them into my work lunches for the following week. Usually I only have veggies left over, so I’ll freeze them and then turn them into some type of veggie mash, served over some quinoa – saving some cash and time.
Good luck with your Meal Prep!